Ian Poulter will go to the Valero Texas Open this upcoming week with his full status on the PGA Tour on the line.
The Ryder Cup star from England is playing this season on a major medical exemption after missing the second half of last season with a foot injury. He entered the 49th RBC Heritage needing to earn $144,000 in his next two tournaments to retain full status for the remainder of the year.
A solo 12th-place finish at Harbour Town Golf Links would have done the trick. Poulter did one better, tying for 11th at 8-under 276, but because another 10 players also tied for 11th, Poulter came up about $30,000 short and needs to earn that at TPC San Antonio.
Poulter entered Sunday’s final round alone in fifth at 10 under but shot a 2-over 73. He had birdie putts of 11 and 26 feet on the last two holes but was unable to hole either – his putt on 18 was from the fringe.
He attempted 32 putts Sunday, which was four more than in any other round, and he three-putted the third and seventh holes. Poulter was as disappointed that he didn’t win as he was for not finishing high enough to secure his status.
“I'm a little hot under the collar right now,” Poulter said. “I'm not disappointed I didn't get the job done today in terms of finishing where I need to finish, but that today could have been a victory and I let it slip. I could have got it done today and I should have got it done today. I pride myself on being a good putter, but the flat stick didn't do what I needed it to do.”
Poulter, who has two PGA Tour wins, will still have conditional status if he fails to earn $30,000 in Texas, but that might limit his schedule for the rest of the season.
For the second consecutive week, Matt Kuchar posted the best round on a Sunday.
Last week at the Masters, Kuchar played his final seven holes 5-under par with three birdies and a hole in one on the 16th to shoot a 67 that matched Hideki Matsuyama for the best round of the day and jumped into a tie for fourth at 5-under 283.
On Sunday at Harbour Town, Kuchar posted a 7-under 64 with six birdies, an eagle and a bogey to leap from a tie for 63rd after the third round into a tie for 11th at 276.
He hit a 240-yard approach to 32 feet on the par-5 second hole and made the putt to get his round going.
“I hit a great shot into the par-5 second hole and was able to make a putt for eagle. I got the monkey off my back and then it was a fun round of golf,” Kuchar said. “I had a downer of a day yesterday but picked it up with a great day today. All in all it was a nice week.”
Kuchar now needs to figure out a way to be close to the lead through three rounds. As he said last Sunday at Augusta National: “It’s a 72-hole tournament. The first hole Thursday means as much as No. 16 on Sunday. It’s every bit as important.”
Graham DeLaet played in the 2013 Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, and this week he called it “probably my most exciting week of golf that I’ve ever had. It was something I’ll cherish forever.”
DeLaet had a chance Sunday to put himself back in the conversation to making the International Team for this year’s competition at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey. He began the final round one shot behind 54-round leader Jason Dufner.
With a win, he would have moved to around 60th in the Official World Golf Ranking, which would have placed him around 14th or 15th in the rankings among players eligible for the International team. The top 10 in the world are on the team automatically and International Team Captain Nick Price chooses the remaining two team members.
DeLaet stumbled Sunday, however, shooting a 2-over 73 to fall back into a tie for sixth at 10-under 274.
“I would love to be on that team,” DeLaet said. “Pricey shoots me texts once in a while and says, ‘Come on, finish this thing off.’ He’s an awesome captain. He’s a great guy. Every single guy on that team loves Nick and I hope to be back on that team, that’s for sure.”
DeLaet went 3-1-1 in the 2013 matches and defeated Jordan Spieth in a singles match.
“I was able to play well that week, which made it more special from a personal standpoint, but we didn’t get that win as a team,” DeLaet said.
Best of the best
A year from its 50th anniversary, the RBC Heritage’s roster of winners looks like it comes straight from the Hall of Fame. Players who have been considered the best in the world have won the tournament at the top of their games.
It started with Arnold Palmer in the inaugural Heritage in 1969, and continued with Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Fuzzy Zoeller, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Greg Norman, Payne Stewart, Nick Price and Davis Love.
Not all of the game’s top players have played the Heritage in recent years – though Jason Day and Jordan Spieth have each participated once since 2015 – but recent winners have also been highly regarded players such as Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Graeme McDowell, Matt Kuchar and Branden Grace.
Faldo, whose win in 1984 was his first in the U.S., gave his take Saturday on why the best players have won at Harbour Town.
“It turns everything up here. You could hit it in the middle of every fairway and be in the wrong place. You’ve really got to lean left and right. It’s pure accuracy and pure strategy. It’s a lovely test. It’s demanding. It keeps you imagination going. It keeps you really engaged through the whole golf course. … I think it just gets the better players’ juices going.“
Ranking the shots
CBS has created a contest through which a player will win $1 million based on fan voting for the best shot from a weekend of 10 PGA Tour events.
In the MetLife MatchUp, CBS will choose one shot Saturday and one shot Sunday from each of the 10 remaining PGA Tour events it will broadcast this season, and those will go head-to-head in fan voting at PGATour.com/MetLife for the five days immediately following the tournament.
The winning shot will then compete with the other 10 winning shots in voting from Aug. 7-16 to determine a champion that will be named during the Wyndham Championship.
The contest began with the RBC Heritage with a holed-out bunker shot by Luke Donald and an intentional shot off a mesh fence to eventually save par on the ninth hole Saturday.
The contest will continue through the Valero Texas Open, Wells Fargo Championship, AT&T Byron Nelson, Dean & Deluca Invitational, FedEx St. Jude Classic, Quicken Loans National, Greenbrier Classic, John Deere Classic and RBC Canadian Open.